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Partnering with employers

Beyond government policies, the promise of valuable work for people with disability lies with employers and Disability Employment Services and how they succeed together. The success created will encourage more people with disability to benefit from the improved quality of life that work can bring.

This presentation will discuss the key messages that assist employers and candidates with disability on their journey towards mutual benefit.

Promises to employers
• Winning the support of employers as allies for inclusion
• Employers’ scope to contribute to inclusion through procurement and customer service.
• DES value adds to help employers be more inclusive.

Promises to candidates
• Things changed when “I learned to say …
• Creating an inclusive candidate journey that prepares for work
• Professional skills delivered with human kindness.


Suzanne Colbert

Suzanne Colbert AM, GAICD

Advisor, NED, Founder and former CEO of AND, and Inaugural DEA chairperson

Suzanne has had 27 years of executive leadership in the for-purpose sector. She is a trusted advisor, non-executive director, business owner, mentor, and coach. She co-founded the Australian Network on Disability (AND) and nurtured its success and growth as CEO for 20 years.

Suzanne’s work at AND transformed the way private and public sector businesses included employees, customers, and stakeholders with disability. In collaboration with member organisations and people with disability, Suzanne designed, developed, and implemented policies, publications, and world-class programs that successfully facilitate inclusion. AND Members invest in acquiring the behaviours, attitudes, systems, and knowledge that they need to welcome people with disability as employees and customers. AND became recognised as the authoritative voice for businesses on inclusion of people with disability and now one in six Australian employees works for an AND member.

Suzanne also established Australia’s first senior executive network to champion the inclusion of people with disability that facilitated executive learning exchanges as were a powerful way of amplifying the influence and effectiveness of the voices of employees with disability in their organisations and D&I.

It was Suzanne’s previous 10 years’ of assisting people with significant disability into well paid sustainable jobs that led her to realise that large and complex employers needed more help. During that time, she was also inaugural chair of ACE National Network, now DEA. She learned that, given the chance, almost everyone can work.

For Suzanne, her professional experience mirrored her personal experience. Her late husband, businessman John Little, a wheelchair user with significant disability continued working into his 70’s.

Suzanne is driven by the belief that everybody can contribute through work, and it’s up to us to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind.